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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Fairleigh Dickinson

Rutgers basketball is back with new faces and a ton of threes! Doesn’t it feel good?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Rutgers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Pikiell’s new look Scarlet Knights destroyed Fairleigh Dickinson 90-55. There’s not much else to add to that sentence, so let’s get right to my 4 thoughts.

Threes!: Rutgers went 12-20 from deep, shooting 60% from long range. And it wasn’t just one player getting hot. Geo Baker, Peter Kiss, Ron Harper, Jr., Issa Thiam, Eugene Omoruyi, and Montez Mathis all connected from beyond the arc. Rutgers is young and they aren’t going to be this hot from deep every night, but the fact that multiple players on these team are threats from long distance is uplifting. There is hope here that Rutgers can be a good three point shooting team—heck, even a competent one. If that happens, they can surprise people this season.

Ball Movement: Twenty-two assists. And some of them were real pretty. The Scarlet Knights distributed the ball, sometimes passing up good shots for even better ones. Myles Johnson lived up to the hype as a good passer on a dish to Harper, Jr. for a dunk. Kiss found Thiam cross court for an open three. FDU tried to press and they tried to zone and still couldn’t cool off Rutgers ball movement. It was fun and pretty to watch. And you have to think they’re only going to get better.

Defense, Turnovers and Rebounding: Make no mistake, FDU was in this game early on. And they did it because Rutgers couldn’t hang on to the ball. They had trouble rebounding the first half, as FDU pulled down a bunch of offensive rebounds. The little guard that Geo Baker was guarding had little trouble getting to the rim, and the Scarlet Knights were slow to rotate over and stop him. And they had trouble hanging on to the ball, particularly Montez Mathis and Eugene Omoruyi. These are all coachable things that should get better as the season goes on.

New Faces: Peter Kiss scored the heck out of the ball, both from long range and getting to the rim. Montez Mathis and Caleb McConnell looked a bit jittery, but each had flashes. But most impressive to me were Myles Johnson and Ron Harper. They both looked like they’ve been playing for a long time, either by being in the right place at the right time, making a smart pass, or a tough rebound. There was a lot to like tonight.

Looking forward to Sunday!